Putting together a show comprised of Broadway songs presented Lesley and me with a myriad of choices to make from a repertoire of a few thousand tunes written over a period of approximately 90 years. Our earliest song is from the 1927 groundbreaking classic Show Boat, and our most contemporary selection is from the 2004 Tony-winning show Wicked. We tried to find a balance between familiar and unknown material, and we tried to include as many composers as possible, although we did end up with three Stephen Sondheim tunes. But the most important consideration for Lesley was that she really wanted to refashion a lot of the songs into something new that was markedly different from the way they were done in their original Broadway productions. These selections include Broadway Baby, I Have Dreamed, Send In The Clowns, A Quiet Thing, Too Close For Comfort, and most notably Before The Parade Passes By.
In addition, we ended up with a whole range of musical styles that I believe shows the rich inherent versatility of the material. We have rock-n-roll (Hair Medley), pop (For Good), swing (It’s All Right With Me, Too Close For Comfort, and What Did I Have That I Don’t Have?), bossa nova (I Have Dreamed and The Boy From), boogie (I Can Cook Too), a jazz ballad (Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man), an amalgam of jazz styles (Medley: On Broadway, Broadway Baby), a classical-style treatment (Unusual Way), art songs (A Quiet Thing and Send In The Clowns), and an approach Lesley jokingly refers to as “avant-garde” (Before the Parade Passes By).
There are very few singers who would have the vision, courage, and ability to undertake the challenge of putting together such a diverse program of styles and be able to pull it off so successfully. Lesley’s rich performances run the full gamut of emotions from the great tradition of Broadway belting in such selections as Broadway Baby, I Can Cook Too, and Hair, to intimate and delicately nuanced performances on selections like Send In The Clowns and A Quiet Thing. And she does it all so well and effortlessly. I also want to acknowledge the wonderful contributions of two consummate musicians, Kirk Smith on bass, and Albie Berk on drums, who provided stellar performances and lots of laughs. And finally I want to thank our
engineer, Tom Weir of Studio City Sound, for making all of us sound so good.
I am really pleased to have been part of such a wonderful creative experience, and I am very proud of the results. I hope our listeners will enjoy the results of our efforts as much as we enjoyed creating this CD. –Michael Asher